I have been growing this Musa Basjoo plant from a small pup for about three years. It is now 6 feet. This was the first year that I will not be able to bring it inside the house for the winter.

enter image description here

It is just too large. I have been told that these plants will grow back if the trunk is cut, but I don't have the heart to do that UNLESS I HAVE TO. Any advice on how to care for the plant in zone 6 usa, where the winters can be very harsh, even with hardy bananas as the musa basjoo? I have seen trees that are cut return, but never plants in pots. I do not know what to do with this lovely happy plant during the cold months. Should I cut it?

  • 1
    I've a 6 foot banana growing in my yard this year (zone 5b) which I started over the winter from a chopped in half root left on the refuse pile in the fall at the local botanical garden. Watered about once a month, and shoots started coming up in March. With an established root system and a little care you may get your 6 footer back next year even if you do chop it. – Wayfaring Stranger Sep 5 '15 at 15:12
  • 1
    Well, I am glad someone with actual experience with these guys can give you from experience a way to keep this guy small. I think I'll put up another question in a similar vein! Good luck chopping this guy...I do believe this guy knows what he is talking about...but scary! – stormy Sep 8 '15 at 19:00
  • 1
    I am curious how your banana did after you cut it back for the winter in 2015? I looked for a follow-up post in the Spring, but didn't see one. I have one that I was going to follow the procedure you used for overwintering, but keeping it in a dark root cellar, so am curious how yours turned out. – scarll Oct 3 '16 at 14:05
  • Well @scarll it came back, bigger and better than before. I now have two more. My advice would be to keep it in a darker place than I did; it started sprouting in January, and I was worried that I would have to put it out early. It is really getting so big that the next thing will be to try to grow it outside, in zone 6. It's possible! – ychirea1 Oct 4 '16 at 17:09

The way I see it there are 2 options to keep this plant growing, but both are going to involve cutting the top back. First, I need to point out one important fact that makes this possible: Banana plants are not trees. Trees are woody perennials. Bananas are herbaceous perennials, much like any perennial garden flowers you might have (hostas, daylilies, daffodils, etc). All the top growth can be replaced every year if it needs to. What appears to be the 'trunk' is just a series of overlapping leaf sheaths. If it's cut back within a few feet of the ground new leaves will grow out from the roots and grow right back.

So, you have two options: One is that you can cut it back to about two feet and tuck it in a cool corner until spring. It will produce new leaves when you put it out in warmer weather. Another option is to plant it outside. If you do this you'll want to watch for the first frost. When that happens the leaves will all die off. At that point, cut down the 'stem' within 2-3 feet of the ground and wrap it in burlap, bubble wrap or similar, then mulch heavily over the roots to protect them from the worst of the winter freezes. Mulched properly, the roots can safely tolerate air temperatures down to -10 degrees Fahrenheit. In zone 6, that pretty much doesn't happen. In spring, the plant will put out new leaves from the base. If you decide to plant it outside, site it somewhere with well drained soil and full sun.

  • 1
    Thanks. It will be painful for me, but I will cut it back, and put it in the garage with the other winter dormant plants. I will check back in the spring with this group, thank you for the advice. – ychirea1 Sep 7 '15 at 21:23

What is too big about it? It's height or breath?

You can cut back a few leaves or shorten them. It will be somewhat ugly that way, but it will not suffer the die back or trunk cut back and will be fully ready to come back in the spring.

  • The height and the width of the leaves. There is no where in the house that will fit it over the winter. – ychirea1 Sep 9 '15 at 19:29

I am with you! If this was planted in the garden and not in a pot then you'd see this thing die back each year to begin anew. This took 3 years to get to this beauty you've got!! There is NO WAY THIS PLANT in a pot will make it without coming indoors for the winter. It IS BEAUTIFUL!! Definitely could use a bigger pot, probably a concrete one that is heavy to support this top growth. Please, don't use garden soil and don't plant in the garden in zone 6!! This dies back in the cold for zones 13-18 (Sunset Western Garden's zones) and this gorgeous plant will never be the same. Have you ever thought about a greenhouse? A tall one? Gotta be climate controlled/heated. I've had an 8'in my home for years, we moved and it got TOO COLD INSIDE and died. Can you raise your ceiling? Grin...this is a tough one, especially since this has been part of your life for 3 years. Personally, I'd drag him back inside, once repotted in a sand-cast concrete type pot possibly 4-6" in diameter larger than the one shown! You can make or even purchase a sturdy stand with rollers for moving. Look at the caliper of that trunk!! Taking indoor plants outside for the summer is the best thing one can do for helping indoor plants last and be vigorous! I always use a shaded porch, never in direct sun. Chopping it down would not be an option for me at all!! I just hope you'll be able to get higher ceilings! Grin. Maybe someone will have a better idea. Do you have a garage? Is it heated? Would it be less of a problem to heat and provide light? I'd punch out my ceiling!! Leave it out and lose it...maybe someone else will have an amazing answer!!

  • It's true, I do love my plant, but I don't have a space inside the house for it. But it is a beauty. – ychirea1 Sep 5 '15 at 20:12
  • 6' is not that tall, yet. Most homes have at least 8' ceilings. I'd get a shorter yet wider pot to transplant and figure a way to roll this guy inside. I've had bigger, taller plants than this beauty to roll in for the winter. Greenhouse is some bucks plus more tricky to control. MAKE SPACE INSIDE!! Grins...SOMEHOW!! Or maybe SELL it to someone that has high ceilings? Get another plant that won't grow so tall! I have some massive Christmas Cactus that have survived where all my other indoor plants have DIED. I live in a Yurt...not so climate controlled... – stormy Sep 5 '15 at 20:20
  • I also wonder how tall it will grow if I leave it in this pot and whether there is a limit... – ychirea1 Sep 6 '15 at 1:37
  • I wouldn't leave it in that pot...just enlarge it slowly...these guys get 15' easily...but slowly, especially in a home environment. Maybe in the future it will survive long enough for you to move into a high-ceilinged home? What can I say? Surely there is someone that knows these tropical plants better than I and could share some kind of a solution! But not now...you've got another year to figure this out! Grins... – stormy Sep 6 '15 at 22:49
  • NO I WOULD NOT CUT THIS PLANT...no way...hopefully maybe someone else will have more knowledge about banana trees...cross my fingers! – stormy Sep 6 '15 at 22:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.